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X-Blade cuts deep into the premium-commuter ..segment

Mirza Mohammed Ali Khan | Updated on May 03, 2018 Published on May 03, 2018

Honda’s motorcycle is a city dweller, but one that doesn’t mind a few trysts with adventure

It’s been a while since Honda Motorcycle and Scooter India’s latest bike offering, the X-Blade, was unveiled at the Auto Expo in Delhi NCR, this February. At the time, many wondered where and how this motorcycle would fit in Honda’s premium-commuter/borderline sporty line-up, which already had the Hornet and the Unicorn; both boasting an engine in the 150 cc range, but offering two very different experiences. The Unicorn makes no bones about its commuter genealogy and the Hornet is the chunky, naked sports wannabe, meant for whizzing around city corners.

I wouldn’t exactly say that the X-Blade sits between the two. Honda has given the motorcycle an appeal of its own, despite sharing the same engine and the underpinnings being pretty much the same. Rather, Honda is trying to carve out a niche and seeking to attract buyers looking for practicality, but also to add some oomph to their daily commute.

Looks

The motorcycle sits atop a diamond chassis, a’la Hornet. From the front, the X-Blade looks like a Transformer, one of those vehicles that is itching to launch itself into the air and morph into a missile-spraying robot. The sharply-cut headlamp looks like a robotic face, and the tall windscreen above it give it an imposing look from the front. The high-set turn indicators complement the effect and also lend some adventure motorcycle looks to the ensemble.

There’s a lot of plastic in the body and that helps reduce the weight and it did certainly feel light to handle. But it’s still slightly heavier than the Hornet. The cladding below the fuel tank and the extended shrouds fill up the empty space quite well and give the motorcycle that ‘tightly-packed’ sports bike look. The Honda Wing on the fuel tank and ‘X-Blade’ on the shroud complete the branding. The T-shaped tail lamp and the conically-tapering rear give it sharp looks, justifying the motorcycle’s nomenclature in a way. Split rear hand rails and the flat handlebar are both comfortable to hold. A slightly forward-leaning setting gives it a sports bike feel, but at my height (I’m exactly 6-feet tall), I felt a tad uncomfortable at times with the foot peg and handlebar positions. I had to push myself further back on the seat to assume a comfortable position, especially when applying the rear brake. However, this is something that will vary based on individual riders.

A chunky exhaust garnished with a bit of shine on the side gives the motorcycle some much-needed width at the rear and a tyre-hugger tops off the ‘performance-bike’ look. Switchgear is all right, but what the X-Blade misses out on is an engine-kill switch, which could’ve been included. The all-digital instrument cluster gets a gear indicator. The rest of the features are the usual bunch— horizontal rev counter on top, speedo, odo, trip meters, fuel indicator, etc. The X-Blade gets hazard lights as well.

The pillion seat felt quite comfortable to ride on, despite its raised stance and this bodes well for those looking to use it for regular commutes.

Engine and performance

The mill is the tried and tested 162 cc offering that is already on the Unicorn and the Hornet. However, the Hornet has been tuned to extract close to one extra PS unit of power (about 15 PS). The X-Blade’s engine churns out about 14 PS of power at 8,500 rpm and 13.9 Nm of torque at 6,000 rpm. These are very healthy figures for a motorcycle looking to punch just above the commuter category. The X-Blade touches speeds in the vicinity of 85-90 kmph quite easily, with hardly any strain. The first gear is short, but city riding in the higher gears is very comfortable and they are all very accommodating, with little or no knocking most of the time. The engine also sounds quite good, particularly the snarling at higher speeds, and vibrations are well contained, both at the footpegs and the handlebar. The bike felt very comfortable at speeds around the 60-70 kmph mark and it looks like it can sustain higher speeds comfortably on long rides.

I felt that the X-Blade was a tad light at the front, and leaned into corners too easily. This front-light feel may also not inspire the best confidence at high speeds, though being a commuter, its handling is unlikely to be in the league of the big bikes. The telescopic front forks and the rear monoshock absorb bad patches of road well at city commute speeds, but feel slightly on the stiffer side. The 276 mm front petal disc brake offers good bite and decent feedback and the rear drum does the job, though just about. It’s a surprise that Honda did not offer ABS options on this one, and even the Combi Brake System is missing. The CBS especially could have been included to tick off a box in the safety department. The X-Blade gets 80/100-17 and 130/70-17 tyres (front and rear).

Bottomline

The X-Blade, below that pleasantly busy design, sports aesthetic, and aggressive demeanour, feels a commuter at heart; albeit one you can have some fun with. The pricing seems on point (₹79,059, ex-showroom Delhi) and with what it offers, it takes on the likes of the Suzuki Gixxer, the Bajaj Pulsar, and the Apache RTR 160 4V.

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Published on May 03, 2018
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